Where have I been? What have I been up to? Well, pretty much everything. Except blogging, that is. I’m currently job-hunting and have been making some great strides – still nothing concrete, but I’m feeling much better about the whole process. And I was out of town for a week visiting family. I joined Twitter (eek!), to sharpen my social media skills, performed a duet (not to mention all the choir work) at my friend’s concert, committed to planning and coordinating another friend’s wedding, planned the marketing strategy for my other friend’s production company, and have been attempting to keep the garden going even though last week was so hot I could barely move and didn’t want to be outside during the day at all. Our living room, at one point, was hotter with the air conditioner and fans going full-blast than the outside air was (and the outside air was mighty hot).
So I haven’t been cooking, pretty much at all, until tonight. My garden has done some strange and wonderful things, but I’ll save them for another post.
For now, I’ll focus on my first cooking project in about a month. Asti Spumante cupcakes!
My husband and I had opened up a bottle of Asti to drink with pizza over the weekend (what? it’s an awesome combination – I like it more than pizza with beer!) and we had quite a bit left over, so I decided to put it to good use.
I looked online for recipes, searched through my cookbooks, and ultimately just started throwing things into my stand mixer’s bowl. The recipe is one I’ve never seen anywhere – all the champagne cupcakes I saw online used a ton of egg whites, and I hate separating eggs and wasting yolks when I’m baking a cake. I sort of made up the proportions as I went, so I’m actually a little surprised at how nicely the cupcakes turned out.
But nice they are! They’re not so sweet you get a rush; you can enjoy the subtle bite of the asti spumante and the nice fruity flavor it brings to the party; the texture is soft with a beautiful dense crumb. In short, they’re everything I wanted in a Spumante cupcake. The added bonus is that they bake up flat – so if you were to, say, make these into a nice big cake, you’d be able to stack and frost and everything without having to mess around with cutting it.
Elisa’s Asti Spumante Cupcakes
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp very fine lemon zest
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups Asti Spumante
Okay, this is a basic cake method. So you know how that goes, right?
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and zest and mix in. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat to combine, add 1/2 of the Spumante, beat to combine. Repeat the additions, ending with the flour mixture.
For a little twist, cut back on a bit of the Spumante and add fresh berries, if you wish. I added mashed raspberries to a third of my mixture and they were divine; sweet and tart together!
Spoon into 18 standard lined cupcake cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely and frost with a buttercream or cream cheese icing!
* Originally I wrote “1 tsp” of vanilla extract, but I only actually used 1/2 tsp. I think the recipe might benefit from having a little more vanilla flavor but I wanted to fix it to reflect what I actually did, which was quite good.